The 75,000-square-foot Hamel Music Center, housing the Mead Witter School of Music performances and recitals, exudes elegance and acoustic perfection, thanks to custom elements such as Banker Wire’s architectural woven wire mesh. The Collins Recital Hall, one of the state-of-the-art performance spaces within the Hamel Music Center, utilized Banker Wire to manufacture the ideal medium to meet both the highly specific aesthetic and acoustic requirements of the space.
Located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and designed by Strang Architects of Madison in partnership with Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture of New York, the expansive recital hall is defined by warm accents and decorative elements, including two halo-shaped tiaras that are suspended from the ceiling. The placement of each unit, which measures approximately 24 feet in diameter, was driven by the lighting needs of the space. As such, one tiara is placed over the stage, while the other is situated above the house.
Fabricated by Chicago Flyhouse, Inc., the tiaras were created as an innovative way to disguise the necessary lighting and sound equipment. In creating the tiaras, the design required a highly customizable material that was more or less acoustically transparent for sound to transmit through. The large, custom weave of Banker Wire’s M24Z-12 wire mesh pattern partially concealed the equipment without absorbing the sound, while allowing the designer to create a repetitive pattern that was truly unique.
The nature of pre-crimped woven wire mesh provided the flexibility needed to easily shape the mesh into the halo form. However, the repeat pattern needed to be a multiple of the tiara’s circumference. Banker Wire introduced the designer to the concept of a basic intercrimp mesh pattern. The versatility of the intercrimp style weave allows a designer to create unique, repeating patterns with the same tooling. With the pitch of a crimp remaining constant, the designer could dictate where to weave the wires as long as the mesh follows an over/under consecutive wire placement — either filling or skipping available crimp pockets — providing the inventor complete creative freedom.
This project is also unique in that it was a good candidate for a frameless approach. Woven wire mesh typically requires a frame. However, since the tiaras are suspended out of reach where guests can’t harm themselves on unfinished ends, all parties worked closely to come up with a solution that would meet the architect’s vision for a light and airy aesthetic. Between Banker Wire’s understanding of woven wire mesh and Flyhouse’s expertise in fabrication and rigging, the partnership resulted in a discreet interior support structure consisting of two full circles of two-inch by two-inch polished, stainless steel box tubes that are separated by one-inch diameter rods. The custom wire mesh was then applied and bolted to the frame. The tiaras are paired with oversized petal-shaped wooden reflectors to help ensure the sound energy remains the closest to the audience.
Overall, the custom tiaras fabricated with Banker Wire’s M24Z-12 pattern are architecturally striking while providing a purposeful disguise, resulting in the perfect harmony of function and form.